Hotelie Magazine

Hotelie Fall 2011 no class notes

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Getting HIP Outreach by Katherine Anderson Deconstructing the electronic equivalent of a five-foot-high tower of research was the first of many challenges facing a team of MMH stu- dents who signed on to assist the New York State Regional Tourism Task Force in its efforts to develop and mar- ket its diverse regions and abundant attractions. Under the guidance of Bill Carroll, senior lecturer in services marketing, and Rob Kwortnik, associate professor of services marketing, MMH '11 stu- dents Katy Crump, Stephan Eberhart, Andi Grossman, Mari Kam, Alex Svyriadis, and Grace Park mapped and analyzed the preferences, perceptions, and experiences of visitors to the state of New York. What they learned and the conclusions they reached could well change the way that the state funds its tourism efforts. "We gave them everything we had from the last five years," explained Edward Muhl, Regional Tourism Task Force coordinator for the New York State Department of Economic Development. The 43 documents handed over included tourism surveys and economic impact, visitation, and brand- tracking studies. "I said, 'Okay, now let's see what sense we can make of this,'" recalled Kwortnik. Confronted with a pared-down budget, the New York State Division of Tourism knew it had to get more strategic in allocating its limited resources and mar- keting the state. A Regional Tourism Task Force, composed of 30 tourism- industry stakeholders and decision- makers, was created to assess the situa- tion and make a series of recommenda- tions to the chairman of Empire State Development, New York State's eco- nomic development agency. Members included representatives from different regions, city and county convention and tourist bureaus, destination marketing organizations, and statewide tourism trade associa- tions, along with state legislators Margaret Markey (D., 30th Assembly District), chairwoman of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports Development, and Betty Little (R., 45th Senate District), chairwoman of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation Committee, as well as Tim Zagat, founder of the Zagat guides and a member of the Governor's Tourism Advisory Council. The genesis of the project was "a desire to work with our stakeholders in a more efficient way and to convey a consistent message," explained task force member Edward Maitino, managing director of Empire State Development's Division of Marketing, Advertising, and Tourism. "We were looking for a more holistic approach." Muhl contacted Carroll early on in the process. The two had worked togeth- er several years ago on a joint state and student effort to assist the Saratoga Springs Bed and Breakfast Association. Partnering with the school again was Muhl's first choice. "Based on our past experience and Cornell's reputation— the fact that this is one of the best hos- pitality schools in the world—we felt that this project would lend itself very well to Cornell." The task force specifically wanted to work with a group with no precon- ceived notions. "We knew that whatever research project we undertook had to be completely objective, not bought and paid for," said Muhl. "Cornell fit the bill." "We knew this was going to be a big project with lots of moving parts," recalled Kwortnik, "so we wanted to make sure we could pull together a team where we were pretty confident in the skill sets of the participants. These were not just students; they were masters- level students who could easily handle this project and the analytics involved." The most prevalent misconception among potential tourists is that the entire state of New York is, like Fifth Avenue, too expensive 26 School of Hotel Administration

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